Who are these Leafs and what have you done with my team? Don’t answer that, I’m enjoying the hell outta this ride. After a tired loss in Carolina on Sunday, the Leafs repeated their dominant performance from Saturday night with another very similar game. Scoring from all over the lineup, very solid tending from the Monster and strong special teams play. All that adds to up to the Leafs retaking the top spot in the Northeast and 2nd in the conference – forget games in hand and lemme enjoy this.
- After two 7-1 wins in a 4-day span, the Leafs have erased their negative goal differential, balancing out the couple of bad losses they had.
- One of the biggest reasons behind these two huge wins is special teams. The Leafs went 50% tonight, and their two powerplay goals opened the game up before the first period was even over. The PK went 5-for-6, and has been damn near perfect for the last week. I don’t have the exact stats in front of me, but I wanna say they’ve only allowed 2, maybe 3 PPG against in their last 30-33 tries.
- Tyler Bozak is now 4th on the team in scoring. Two goals tonight, and he came damn close to being the 3rd member of that top line to score a hat trick this season. He’s been great at both ends of the ice, and it’s nice to see things coming together for him. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out when Mikhail Grabovski is healthy again.
- In the words of Ron Wilson, speaking about Tim Connolly’s return to the lineup: “He seems to make everyone around him better.” Connolly has been just about as advertised: a point-per-game player, when he’s healthy. He made a great play to help set up the first goal, and has been a driving force since his return to the powerplay unit. A goal and another assist, both on the PP, earned him top star of the night.
- Welcome back, Clarke MacArthur. A goal in the first minute set the tone for the whole night, and he looked good as new. A good sign with all the other long-term injuries.
- The kids did a hell of a job tonight, with Matt Frattin assisting on two goals, including a beauty on Joe Colborne’s first NHL goal. Jake Gardiner had 2 assists, went +4 and wanted to drop the gloves with Steve Stamkos near the end of the game. His defense is also underrated, as there were more than a few times he was out against guys like Martin St. Louis and looked right at home – that penalty aside.
- Phil Kessel didn’t score tonight, but added an assist to his league-leading point total.
- Jonas Gustavsson turned in another great performance. He made a couple big saves along the way to finishing up with 27 saves, bringing his save percentage to .971 over his last two starts. He’s a long way from convincing me that he’s fully turned the corner into being a reliable second option behind James Reimer, but he looks like he’s somehow found some confidence and turned that into some quality starts against some offensively potent teams.
- Nikolai Kulemin managed an assist but remains mired in that goal slump. That’s all I got.